Building an extensive collection of tools takes time. Even DIYers with a few years and plenty of projects under their belts probably still pine for new gear they’ve yet to acquire. Make sure you’re off to a good start with a few of the best tools available.
Not all newer DIYers know what to look for or what they need when starting their tool collection. Whether it’s household DIY, automotive maintenance, or woodworking, there’s just so much to know. This guide will help, as it explains some of the finer points of tool selection and provides a list of tools to tackle entry-level DIY jobs.
- BEST OVERALL: Klein Tools 32500 Multi-Bit Screwdriver
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Channellock Tool Roll-5E E Series Set in a Tool Roll
- BEST TAPE MEASURE: Stanley 33-735 Fatmax Tape Rule
- BEST DRILL DRIVER SET: DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill Combo Kit
- BEST SOCKET SET: CRAFTSMAN Mechanics Tool Set
- BEST CIRCULAR SAW: DEWALT 20V MAX 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Brake
- BEST MITER SAW: Metabo HPT 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw
- BEST WRENCH SET: CRAFTSMAN Adjustable Wrench Set
- BEST LEVEL SET: Goldblatt 3-piece Torpedo Spirit Level Set
The expansive world of hand and power tools can be both exciting and overwhelming. In order to choose the best tools for a DIY-friendly set, it pays to become familiar with some of the finer points and nuances of tool selection. The following sections cover the most important things to consider when shopping for the best tools.
The average DIYer should make sure their collection includes a few crucial tools. The following list details tools you’re most likely to need for any project, from mechanical to woodworking tasks.
- Striking tools: These include hammers, mallets, and sledgehammers. Most projects require at least some type of hammer, so it’s important to have one that’s both versatile and tough.
- Measuring tools: Many projects require these as well. They include tape measures, rulers, squares, and even spirit levels.
- Fastening tools: Fastening tools are critical to attaching nuts, bolts, and other small fittings. They include sockets, ratchets, wrenches, pliers, and other gear designed to twist small fasteners into place.
- Power tools: Hand tools are great, but power tools make tough jobs easier. The most popular tools in this category are circular saws, miter saws, and drill drivers.
When it comes to the best tools, weight is relative, but tool shoppers should at least keep this concern in mind. Most DIY-friendly tools are relatively lightweight compared to commercial or professional-grade models. But it would be a mistake to choose a model of a particular tool based on weight alone.
Some tools marketed to first-time tool-buyers consist of low-quality materials like inferior plastics, thin metal, and light-duty motors. For that reason, savvy shoppers should recognize the need for a balance between weight and quality.
When it comes to the best tools, thoughtful design matters. Years ago, very little thought or research went into ergonomics, anti-vibration, and other user-friendly features. The adage about not fixing something if it isn’t broken seemed to be the motto of every large tool manufacturer for decades.
Today, much more planning goes into the production of tools that users can wield and manipulate with ease. Rubber overmolded grips, curved handles, shock absorption, energy efficiency, and specialized materials make a significant difference in the design (and thus, the ease of use) of the best tools.
The best tool kits include versatile tools. While the pros might be able to spend money on specialty tools for each individual purpose, DIYers need tools to tackle a wide range of projects.
For that reason, many of the best tools come in sets that bring cost savings. Power tools, pliers, and marking and measuring tools may come in kits that feature five or six tools. For tools that don’t come in sets, it’s important to purchase models that offer the most flexibility, such as pliers that adjust or hammers that can handle framing and finish carpentry.
A DIYer’s tool kit needs proper storage. They don’t belong loose in a bucket or the trunk of a car.
Some of the best tools, including power tools and mechanics’ tool sets, often come in a plastic case. These cases protect the tools and also keep them organized, which can be a significant benefit for those who don’t have dedicated workshops or garages. Some other tools (particularly hand tools) don’t come with their own storage, so it’s a good idea to invest in a quality tool bag or toolbox.
Our Top Picks
The purchase of a comprehensive tool kit doesn’t have to be intimidating. DIYers can build their collection one piece at a time. The following list includes some of the best tools on the market. High quality and easy to use, these tools form the foundation of a complete tool kit.
With its Multi-Bit Screwdriver, Klein Tools has made a do-all screwdriver with all the necessary bits in one spot. Its 11 driver bits include #1 and #2 Phillips; 3/8-, 5/16-, and 1/4 inch nut drivers; T10 and T15 Torx bits; #1 and #2 square drivers; and 1/4- and 3/16-inch slotted drivers.
The screwdriver houses all of the driver bits within a shaft that snaps securely into the cushioned handle with a ball detent. This clever design makes for simple bit changes and a streamlined tool kit that includes one screwdriver rather than many.
Pliers play an absolutely critical part in every tool kit. The E Series set from Channellock contains some of the most essential types: adjustable pliers, diagonal cutters, nippers, linesman’s pliers, and needle-nose pliers, covering all the bases for most projects.
Channellock’s durable high-carbon steel and laser heat-treated edges and jaws ensure that these pliers last. XLT Xtreme Leverage Technology helps the user put sufficient clamping or cutting pressure on a fastener or nail without excessive effort. Channellock Blue grips provide slip resistance and shock absorption.
Good tape measures are a cornerstone of a DIY-friendly tool kit, and Stanley’s Fatmax definitely fits the bill. The 33-735 Fatmax Tape Rule has plenty of features that stand out from the crowd, including a heavy-duty heat-treated spring and a special mylar-polyester blade for durability.
Stanley’s tape measure features BladeArmor, a coating that protects the first 6 inches of the blade—the most frequently used section. Several features make for extra-easy use: an oversize hook with catches on both the top and bottom, a whopping 11-foot extension, and a locking feature to maintain extension during multiple measurements. A built-in belt clip helps keep the tape measure close by between measuring tasks.
While DIYers can certainly use one drill and switch between bits, a combo kit that features a drill and an impact driver like this one from DeWalt makes the job easier. This kit comes with both drivers, a charger, and two batteries, which allows users to swap between tools during a project.
The drill driver features a two-speed transmission with a ½-inch chuck to use with a variety of drill bits and driver bits for maximum flexibility. The impact driver features a quick-connect ¼-inch chuck as well as three LED lights for illuminating dark work areas. Both tools feature ergonomically designed rubber overmolded grips for comfort.
The set comes in a contractor bag for carrying it to and from the job site.
Craftsman’s 135-piece Mechanics Tool Set includes enough sockets, ratchets, drivers, and attachments for most DIY-friendly mechanic jobs. This kit includes both SAE and metric tools and covers almost every fastener required.
In this set, DIYers will find 72 sockets in three driver sizes, including ½, ⅜, and ¼ inch. It also comes with both standard and metric hex keys and the most common Torx drivers for vehicle maintenance. Large markings make it quick and easy to find the appropriate socket or driver.
DeWalt’s 20V Max 7¼-inch Circular Saw includes numerous attractive features that make it both powerful and easy to use. A brushless motor produces plenty of power and goes easier on batteries, so the saw runs longer and cuts through a variety of dense materials. An electronic brake provides safety and energy efficiency. A bright LED light illuminates the cutline. A built-in rafter hook allows users to hang the saw securely when working at elevated heights.
The saw runs on the DeWalt’s 20-volt Max battery system, which means users already invested in the system can use their current cache of batteries. Users must purchase batteries separately.
A compound miter saw brings flexibility and convenience to the DIY workshop. Metabo HPT’s 12-inch model features a compact sliding system that allows users to cut larger boards using minimal space on the workbench.
This saw adjusts from 0 to 57 degrees to the right and from 0 to 45 degrees to the left. Dual-bevel tilting allows users to adjust the angle of the blade to the left or the right for convenience. The fence adjusts up to 5⅛ inches, which allows users to nest 7½-inch crown molding against it for accurate cuts. Its 15-amp motor has plenty of power for framing. A laser guide facilitates more precise work.
It’s hard to place a value on a quality adjustable wrench, and this set of three from Craftsman is no exception to that rule. It includes 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch wrenches, so users may choose the appropriate wrench for the job and leverage required.
Strong and durable all-steel alloy construction resists rust and corrosion. Clear markings on the jaws make it easy to dial the wrench to the appropriate size or determine the size of a fastener in seconds. The jaws on the 6-inch model adjust up to 15/16 inch. The 8- and 10-inch models adjust up to 1 3/16 inch and 1 3/8 inch, respectively.
Goldblatt’s 3-piece Torpedo Spirit Level Set can handle almost any job. This kit comes with a torpedo level as well as 2-foot and 4-foot levels—everything needed for framing projects and hanging pictures, cabinets, and doors.
Durable aircraft-grade aluminum construction with perfectly milled surfaces offers accurate readings. Three magnified vials in each level allow for easy reading from any angle. The 9-inch torpedo level features a built-in light that operates on 2 AAA batteries. The 2-foot and 4-foot levels feature comfortable grips for sure handling.
The following sections aim to answer any additional questions you may have about the best tools for your workshop. Be sure to check below for answers to your remaining questions.
Q. What tools should every workshop have?
All workshops need a combination of striking tools, fastening tools, and power tools. Some tools to stock a workshop with include hammers, circular saws, miter saws, screwdrivers, pliers, and ratchet and socket sets.
Q. What tools should I buy first?
In most cases, the first tools a DIYer should purchase are a hammer, a screwdriver, a tape measure, and a handy cordless drill.
Q. What is the most useful tool?
Arguably, the most useful tool is a pair of water-pump or adjustable pliers. These pliers can provide a ton of grip on pipes, fasteners, and other surfaces, taking the place of several tools in one.
Q. Which brand of tools is the best?
There are lots of excellent tool brands. Some of the best brands include DeWalt, Craftsman, Klein, Snap-On, Metabo, Milwaukee, Crescent, Stanley, and Channellock.
The expansive world of hand and power tools can be both exciting and overwhelming. In order to choose the best tools for a DIY-friendly set, it pays to become familiar with some of the finer points and nuances of tool selection. Building an extensive collection of tools takes time. Make sure you’re off to a good start with a few of the best tools available.